What causes elbow pain?

There are a variety of causes for elbow pain. It can arise from a multitude of structures. One common cause of elbow pain is from over-use, particularly of the forearm muscles. This causes irritation of the tendons which can cause inflammation and, therefore, pain. This can cause conditions such as tennis or golfers elbow.

Another cause of elbow pain is trauma. Trauma is often associated with sports injuries or car accidents but it could be a trip of a fall. With trauma, you can have a fracture of one or more bones. Common fractures found at the elbow are a fracture to the radial head, olecranon or an avulsion fracture.

Another injury from a trauma can be a ligament sprain or tear. There are three main ligaments in the elbow joint; the medial collateral ligament, the lateral collateral ligament and the annular ligament. Ligaments are short tough bands of fibrous connective tissue. They are attached to bones or cartilage and are responsible for holding bones together and stabilising joints. Though ligaments are relatively strong and rigid by nature, it is possible to injure them. Ligament injuries, also known as ligament sprains, are caused when the fibres become stretched or torn, or even when a ligament completely ruptures.

Aside from over-use and trauma elbow pain can also arise from normal degeneration. This can be in the form of osteoarthritis where the cartilage wears down and causes pain and stiffness. The tendons and other soft tissue structures can also degenerate causing inflammation and pain.

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